originally posted 4/1/2012
I met my current boyfriend about 5 years ago, and we started dating almost a year ago. I have an 8 year old daughter, and I myself was a victim of traumatizing childhood sexual abuse, so before I even considered dating him I investigated why he was a RSO. I knew before we started dating because we live in a small (I’m from CA so any city with less than a million people is small to me) city in MS (we also do not have a tier system for RSOs). I talked to cops, lawyers, the DA’s office, and other people, and basically he was innocent. He was convicted of a sex offense but never actually did anything, didn’t touch anyone, and THAT was the crime. NOT doing anything.
He was convicted 10 years ago and hasn’t been in any trouble since. Because of that we are able to get his record expunged; however, as of now he is on the registry. As a parent and former victim, I have found the registry helpful and agree with its existence. However, not every sex offender is a monster or threat. I am a combat vet, a former firefighter and 911 dispatcher and was applying to the police department, and he worked for several years at the same job in management and was very good at his job. After more people became aware of the registry in our town, people started checking everyone out, and people saw him on there. (As I’m sure most of you know, the description of the crime rarely gives an accurate description of what happened.)
He lost his job, I was denied several jobs because of it, I lost friends, he lost his home (the owner always knew, he doesn’t hide that he’s a RSO, especially when it’s important to let certain people know, but he also doesn’t flaunt it) and life-long friends. My daughter doesn’t know, but a few people who have seen him on the registry have attempted to tell my daughter (who considers him her dad) and even try to talk very, very badly about him to her.
The spirit of the registry is good; however, people, organizations, and our government have abused it and used it as a targeting system. I have a friend (who was convicted as an newly 18 year old who slept with his 16 year old girlfriend the day before her 16th birthday) who was targeted and assaulted because his name was on the registry. It has become a list of people to harass, assault, destroy, and kill. We have had threats and hate mail due to my boyfriend being found on the registry. When the new law passed here in July 2011, we were afraid of it being retroactive and our car tag having an RSO emblem on it and his face being plastered on billboards. We have a local paper called “Jailhouse Times” where the pictures and descriptions of all arrested are published once a week. It holds 5-7 pictures and details of RSOs in all counties of our state. All it takes is the wrong person to see the registry or this paper, and our lives could be ruined if not in actual danger.
I love him more than I could ever describe and will stand by him no matter how bad it gets unless my daughter is in danger. But after 10 years and perfect behavior, even RSOs deserve to be left alone and to love life and be a functioning, safe member of society. The registry MUST be reformed, laws MUST be reformed. A violent, serial rapist and some 14 year old who ‘sexts’ shouldn’t be on the same level or share places together on the registry. That’s all I want to say. Thank-you and good luck!